On July 26, 2017, ELC filed a Complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) on behalf of students with disabilities in the School District of Philadelphia, alleging discrimination based on a systemic failure by the District to promptly and appropriately address severe and pervasive bullying of these students. The Complaint chronicles the bullying of four students and explains how the District’s failure to respond to parent complaints, denying students the right to transfer, and referring students and parents to Truancy Court led to prolonged periods of pervasive bullying and the deprivation of free, appropriate public education to vulnerable students with disabilities. ELC is seeking systemic reforms to remedy the District’s policies and practices. You can read a copy of ELC’s Complaint here.
ELC Staff Attorney Cheryl Kleiman of ELC’s Pittsburgh Office will be honored on July 26th at The Incline’s “Who’s Next in Education” celebration. The event honors Pittsburgh’s emerging leaders in education. Join ELC as Who’s Next in Education Honors Cheryl
by Emily Previti, WITF
The city of Lancaster resettles a lot of refugees for a community of its size, and various stakeholders have long collaborated with the district for school-based programs designed to help entire families from this vulnerable population.
So when the School District of Lancaster was sued one year ago, officials argued that they — not the courts — knew best how to deal with their own students.
But Judge Edward G. Smith found last year that the School District of Lancaster had violated the federal Equal Educational Opportunities Act by delaying or denying enrollment of older refugee students and diverting them to a magnet school with less support for English Language Learners than the mainstream high school and its Newcomer Program designed for first-year ELLs (formerly known as the International School).
And now, the School District of Lancaster is looking at spending more than half a million dollars, less than 1 percent of its $208 million annual budget, as a result of the lawsuit, according to school officials.
“I don’t think districts are off the hook from following civil rights laws.” Deborah Gordon Klehr, ELC Executive Director
7/17/2017 by Darryl C. Murphy, published in The Philadelphia School Notebook
Local advocates and civil rights leaders are preparing to be more watchful in response to the decision under the Trump administration to scale back the U.S. Department of Education’s investigations of civil rights violations.
The department announced in early June that it is changing its approach to dealing with discrimination complaints.
Through an internal memo, Candice Jackson, acting head of the department’s Office for Civil Rights, stated that investigations into systemic discrimination will no longer be required and cases will be treated on an individual basis. Civil rights advocates, including those in Philadelphia, say the new protocol could spell disaster for the nation’s most vulnerable students. Continue reading
ELC praises the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) for release of two new policy announcements that now make clear its commitment to decrease exclusionary discipline and increase inclusion in all its early childhood learning programs across Pennsylvania. With ELC’s leadership and support for public comments and extensive parent, provider, and community engagement, OCDEL identified shared values and vision across its programs, and released these two companion policies, effective Jul. 1, 2017. Continue reading
by Stacy M. Brown, Philadelphia Tribune, Jul 8, 2017
After state lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a $32 billion budget that still has no defined plan in which to pay for it, many around the commonwealth have hailed the spending plan as a victory for public schools and for early childhood and special education.
Local lawmakers added that it’s a victory for Philadelphia area schools as well.
Check out this 7/9/17 national story from NBC News about charter schools. ELC’s Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr talks to reporter Craig Melvin about charter schools often failing to serve vulnerable student populations. Want to learn more? Watch the Interview!
July 6, 2017 — Philadelphia Public School Notebook — by Dale Mezzacappa and Avi Wolfman-Arent
The School Reform Commission voted Thursday to establish a new in-house special education program for 100 students, most diagnosed with social-emotional disabilities and now placed in facilities run by Wordsworth. The new program will be run initially by the private education provider Catapult Learning before transitioning to full District control.